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Part Four Hugh Lofting

VII Hawk's-Head Mountain

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"No. Then he'd never go back. Your voice needs a rest. Don't sing to him: just watch him--Oh, and Doctor, why not tie another message to the creature's leg, telling Long Arrow that we're doing our best to reach him and that he mustn't give up hope?"

"I will," said the Doctor. And in a minute he had pulled a dry leaf from a bush near by and was covering it with little pictures in pencil.

At last, neatly fixed up with his new mail-bag, Mr. Jabizri crawled off the Doctor's finger to the ground and looked about him. He stretched his legs, polished his nose with his front feet and then. moved off leisurely to the westward.

We had expected him to walk UP the mountain; instead, he walked AROUND it. Do you know how long it takes a beetle to walk round a mountain? Well, I assure you it takes an unbelievably long time. As the hours dragged by, we hoped and hoped that he would get up and fly the rest, and let Polynesia carry on the work of following him. But he never opened his wings once. I had not realized before how hard it is for a human being to walk slowly enough to keep up with a beetle. It was the most tedious thing I have ever gone through. And as we dawdled along behind, watching him like hawks lest we lose him under a leaf or something, we all got so cross and ill-tempered we were ready to bite one another's heads off. And when he stopped to look at the scenery or polish his nose some more, I could hear Polynesia behind me letting out the most dreadful seafaring swear-words you ever heard.

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After he had led us the whole way round the mountain he brought us to the exact spot where we started from and there he came to a dead stop.

"Well," said Bumpo to Polynesia, "what do you think of the beetle's sense now? You see he DOESN'T know enough to go home."

"Oh, be still, you Hottentot!" snapped Polynesia. "Wouldn't YOU want to stretch your legs for exercise if you'd been shut up in a box all day. Probably his home is near here, and that's why he's come back."

"But why," I asked, "did he go the whole way round the mountain first?"

Then the three of us got into a violent argument. But in the middle of it all the Doctor suddenly called out,

"Look, look!"

We turned and found that he was pointing to the Jabizri, who was now walking UP the mountain at a much faster and more business-like gait.

"Well," said Bumpo sitting down wearily; "if he is going to walk OVER the mountain and back, for more exercise, I'll wait for him here. Chee-Chee and Polynesia can follow him."

Indeed it would have taken a monkey or a bird to climb the place which the beetle was now walking up. It was a smooth, flat part of the mountain's side, steep as a wall.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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